Box of Delights: Richard Cork Follows Donald Judd's Quest to Purge Sculpture of Elaboration

By Cork, Richard | New Statesman (1996), February 23, 2004 | Go to article overview

Box of Delights: Richard Cork Follows Donald Judd's Quest to Purge Sculpture of Elaboration


Cork, Richard, New Statesman (1996)


Nobody was making art like Donald Judd in 1961. Quite out on his own, he began producing large, untitled paintings that rejected the prevailing movements of the period. In New York, where Judd had studied philosophy and art history at Columbia University a decade earlier, the splashiness of abstract expressionism was revered. But Judd had no intention of aping the loose, highly gestural mark-making of Jackson Pollock or Willem de Kooning. Nor did he share Roy Lichtenstein's fascination with the zany world of comic-strip imagery. Judd preferred the less exclamatory work of Barnett Newman, whom he considered the "best painter in the country". In his own 1961 work, Judd moved towards a harder, leaner vision.

In the first painting of Tate Modern's superb retrospective, executed on canvas, a thin white line meanders and ripples across a field of deep blue. But Judd soon jettisoned these undulations altogether. Working instead on masonite, he mixed sand with the paint to lend it a bulkier, more sculptural texture. The black lines drawn taut on the surface curve at either end, so that we recognise the form as a colossal hairpin. Yet the overall impact now centres on spareness and solidity, enriched by the intense red spread thickly across the picture surface.

With hindsight, we can sense Judd turning away from his earlier commitment to painting. He was searching for more palpable alternatives and, near the end of this decisive year, he became still more radical. Spreading an expanse of masonite and wood with sheer black paint, he lodged an aluminium baking pan at its heart. The entire work projects into space like a shallow relief, and the matt blackness surrounding the pan is an ideal foil for its gleaming gold lustre.

Even at his most severe and reductive, Judd never forsook the sensuous charge of colour. But he had to move further in the direction of sculptural form. He made more reliefs, mainly flat on the wall yet framed, at apex and base, by dark metal bands curving outwards. Judd must have relished the move into three-dimensional space. By 1963, he had decided to make a floor-based work, painting a rectangular wooden box with light cadmium red. Then, rather than leaving it whole, heinset a length of iron pipe at the top. An industrial ready-made, the pipe looks brazen and defiant, making the box seem almost opulent. Even so, it seems absolutely right in its shallow trough.

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

No wonder Judd attacked the critics' attempts to describe his work as minimal. "A simple box is really a complicated thing," he protested, echoing Constantin Brancusi's defence of his work. Both men, who can now be rewardingly compared in Tate Modern's two concurrent shows, shared a desire to purge sculpture of all unnecessary elaboration. But Judd went further than Brancusi by insisting that art "based on human bodies ... has had its day". In an arresting phrase, he declared that his sculpture should look as if it had arrived "full-blown in the middle of the night". …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Box of Delights: Richard Cork Follows Donald Judd's Quest to Purge Sculpture of Elaboration
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.